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285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

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285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby ezabielski » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:53 am

I was wondering if anyone has a preference for getting from the Front Range area to Twin Lakes in winter, either Highway 285 to BV to Twin Lakes, or I-70 to Leadville to Twin Lakes. I was thinking 285, while slightly slower, would be a better drive in the winter.

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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Yikes » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:57 am

not being a fan of I-70, would recommend 285 most of the time. only exception would be in windy conditions during or immediately after a heavy snow. I make the 285 drive about every other week and haven't had any significant issues. Although a winter a few years back saw about a dozen or so closures on 285.

Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby FireOnTheMountain » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:55 pm

I find 285 can be quite treacherous driving especially around Bailey with lots of ups and downs. Nothing like crapping your pants at 4 am on your way up there from Denver on icy roads.

IMO, I-70 better to get to Lead in winter but I still do 285 and am just more cautious.
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby SolarAlex » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:30 pm

285 in the front range is one of the scarier roads ive driven on...its a lot of up and down with a lot of corners. in a snowstorm, its extremely treacherous.

still, its better than sitting on 70 for 17 hours

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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Lemmiwinks » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:54 pm

If it's a weekend day where ski traffic will be bad, I'd definitely take 285. On a weekday, it's kind of a toss up in my opinion. Fremont Pass and Kenosha Pass are both well-maintained and easy to get over.
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:58 pm

Check cotrip.org for road conditions before you commit to 285. It also has speeds for I-70 in case you're wondering how jammed it is. I've found it only happens weekday mornings and afternoons. goi70.com often has predictions of traffic patterns, based on real measurements instead of the usual anecdotes. :-"
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Dan_Suitor » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:02 pm

I live in Conifer, so I always take 285 when going to the Sawatch. 285 can get bad if it’s snowing or blowing snow. If not, it’s really an enjoyable ride. However, you are coming from Boulder. If you are not traveling west on a weekend morning, or east on a weekend afternoon I think I-70 would be your best bet to get to the Twin Lakes area. I-70 is more direct, better maintained and faster driving for you than what 285 would be.

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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby RoanMtnMan » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:22 pm

I think even from Boulder I would chose US 285 to Twin Lakes. More scenic, less people, and about the same drive time with traffic on I70. It shuts down less than I70 as well. I do carry tire chains, a tow strap, metal shovel, extra water, food, gas and blankets just in case. When it is bad in South Park, it is really bad. We clocked 70mph winds a few years ago outside of Jefferson. I've only had to overnight once on the route but I was glad I had the extras. 99% of the time it works out though. I suspect that they will make that route a 4 lane all the way to BV at some point.
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby pills2619 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:41 pm

Depends if its bad or really bad. If its bad then I would always take the back road but if its really bad I tend to take the major highways because when I say really bad I mean like ice and lots of it where having guard rails and 2 or 3 lanes of space between you and the cliff edge could make the difference between stopping or gaining control or sliding right off the edge. Also something to think about is when its really bad there are often times not to many people on the big roads. Ive also found a new favorite way to get to the mountains when its nasty. I usually get off work at 1130 or 12 so ill just drive up to frisco when the roads are bad but you only see a few cars and basically have everything to yourself. Then I just fold my seats down and lay my sleeping bag out. Usually wake up to a snow plow or the sun a few hours later and head to the resorts for the first lift. I also recommend to anyone sleeping in their car to not use their down backpacking sleeping bag but get a beefy heavy ass cabelas or equivalent rectangular bag with a flanal lining. Way more comfortable when trying to find comfort in the sharp cornered nature of the trunk.

oh and yeah you need to get everything listed in the post above cause I have used every single one of those items before. $5 road flares are a good one as well and a tow rope if that wasn't already mentioned.
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby GeezerClimber » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:57 pm

I70 is quicker to Twin Lakes, probably 20 minutes. We live in BV and normally take 285. I70 is about 10 miles longer from here but the same amount of time. When the wind blows snow accross 285, it can get very icy in South Park. Check with CDOT. If it's Sunday afternoon though, 285 will be MUCH faster.

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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Mark A Steiner » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:26 pm

I have used a westbound I-70 option only to view snowpack conditions in the springtime in the northern Sawatch otherwise invisible from 285. Since I usually drive toward Monarch, Wolf Creek or Lizard Head passes enroute to AZ, 285 is a better deal. Many years driving this road have taught me what areas to expect glaze or compacted snow in winter: N of Antero Junction near a lodgepole forest, west side of road; between the Weston Pass turnoffs and Fairplay and from Como to Kenosha Pass. Anticipating trouble in these areas helps endure the agony of icy roads. One thing this highway has taught me: beware of sudden winter-like changes anywhere along the entire stretch from Trout Creek to Kenosha Passes.
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Re: 285 or I-70 to the Sawatch in Winter?

Postby Steve Knapp » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:19 pm

I-70 nearly always unless there is ski traffic, primarily Sat/Sun morning between 7-9am or Sunday afternoons.

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